Quill Shift Literary Agency understands that, in this climate, there is a greater need than ever to cultivate savvy writers, to provide them with resources to grow and flourish, and to connect them with readers who will most appreciate their works. For authors coming from different cultures or whose stories showcase characters of color, connecting with readers is that much more important because now more than ever authors are expected to market and publicize their books.
Quill Shift Literary Agency believes that the shift of responsibility should be taken on by the author’s advocate, not fully by the author. The best way to work more publicity and marketing in the value chain is to move it to the beginning. To accomplish this, Quill Shift actively promotes its authors through social media and its website by providing opportunities for readers to get a sneak peek, interact with, and appreciate Quill Shift authors’ works before they are sent to editors at publishing houses. This pre-publication platform on the website is all about connecting the end-consumer (librarians, booksellers, teachers, parents, and the discerning teen who is tired of the mainstream) to captivating stories that reflect the lives of kids and teens today. The interaction and support of stories that connect us will show publishing houses that there is a readership for the diverse works written by authors represented by Quill Shift Literary Agency.
Ayanna founded Quill Shift Literary Agency in 2013 to pursue her interest in representing unique and thoughtful books for middle grade and young adult readers that embrace and celebrate the individual and their story yet, at the same time, highlight human nature and the entry points that suggest that every story can bring you closer to another person. She has worked in the publishing industry in a number of capacities: in the digital department of a publishing house, within a literary agency, as a book reviewer, and most recently as a children’s librarian. She earned her bachelors degree at the University of Illinois with a major in Marketing and a minor in English and immediately went on to pursue and receive her masters degree in Library and Information Science at the University of Illinois with a concentration in Youth Services.As an agent, Ayanna is looking for middle grade and Young fiction containing plucky, so-real-you-can-feel-them-standing-next-to-you characters, especially those representing our multicultural society. Ideally, characters in the books she represents are dealing with the complex and simple everyday problems of “normal” adolescent life–-normal being loosely defined by whatever world or dimension the characters find themselves in. Self-discovery and shifting world views are welcome, as are all manner of genre fiction (romance, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy).
Do we as writers, especially new writers, really need an agent right away?
I want an agent when I really have something to present that’s polished and well written. I feel that I would be spinning my wheels trying to get an agents attention if my project isn’t worthy. Not only that, I would have to share any profits. Is that me being cheap? Not sure about it, I haven’t had that experience yet.
According to an article from The Writer, Stephen King had this to say about agents in 1986:
An agent? Forget it. For now
Agents get 10% of monies earned by their clients. 10% of nothing is nothing. Agents also have to pay the rent. Beginning writers do not contribute to that or any other necessity of life. Flog your stories around yourself. If you’ve done a novel, send around query letters to publishers, one by one, and follow up with sample chapters and/or the manuscript complete. And remember Stephen King’s First Rule of Writers and Agents, learned by bitter personal experience: You don’t need one until you’re making enough for someone to steal … and if you’re making that much, you’ll be able to take your pick of good agents.
That was quite a while ago and so much has changed since then. I feel he has a valid point, new writers should wait and shop around with publishers first. None of us would be any worse for the ware.
I have met many writers who have a fear of the query letter. I never understood it until I had to do one myself. I read as much information as I could find and still there didn’t seem to be an easy answer as to how best to write a query. I was wondering if there was a Query Fairy out there somewhere who could help. There is help.
There are lots of Query Fairy’s out on the web. They are out there with their magic wands spreading their fairy dust all around. One in particular is Noah Lukeman. Of course, he may not consider himself a fairy, but he still offers help in writing a great query letter and he even offers a free download with tips and resources to help get you started.
I have downloaded the book and read it more than once, more than twice and I have utilized the tips. I created a few query letters and the world didn’t blow up. I was rejected but not because of my query letter. I was rejected because a similar story idea or article was just accepted or it wasn’t something they were interested in at the time. Now, rejection is rejection but I look at the bright side of the situation, I received personal notes and comments from the editors. I was happy about that. I was not expecting personal notes. What that says to me is that my query letter was good enough for them to stop, read and comment. I passed the test.
So, maybe I’m wrong but I choose not to think that. I might mention, that it wasn’t just Noah Lukeman, I have been surfing around and absorbing everything I see in regards to how to write a query letter. It’s been a while since I have sent any out. I have hope that someday soon my idea; my project will be taken in and shared with all of you.
Most of us are not new to writing. We’ve been writing since we were kids. If we are writers we also read a lot and can either predict a stories outcome or are extremely excited when the end comes and we didn’t see it coming. I love those kinds of stories and want to write those kinds of stories. The question is, how do we learn to write, and how do we know we are doing it right?
I have participated in conferences, critique groups, online courses, and have worked with a group of children’s authors and a writing coach. I read tons of books and am reading and have read tons of books on the subject of writing. Some of it is finally beginning to soak in.
If you’re a writer and getting closer to finishing your project, you’ll need to start figuring out where you will submit your manuscript. It’s tough getting started because you have so many options and so much competition. Investigating the right place to send your “baby” can be an overwhelming task.
Over at Jennifer Represents, literary agent Jennifer Laughran, has some wonderful tips on getting started creating a list of editors to submit too. She gives great examples on what to look for and how some of these companies are sub-divided. It’s really confusing if you’re just getting started.
One thing you will want to keep in mind, is that, before you submit a manuscript to an editor be sure you research them. Many of them have a website or blog with guidelines that should be followed. You certainly don’t want your manuscript going into “file 13” before it’s even had a chance to really be seen.
To read Jennifer’s post “Crafting The Editor Submission List” please go here.